Perl FAQ 1.9: Is perl difficult to learn?

Perl FAQ 1.9

Is perl difficult to learn?

Not at all. Many people find Perl extremely easy to learn. There are at least three main reasons for this.

The first reason is that most of Perl has been derived from standard utilities, tools, and languages that you are (probably) already familiar with. If you have any knowledge of the C programming language and standard C library, the Unix Shell, sed and awk, Perl should be simple and fun for you to learn.

The second reason that Perl is easy to learn is that you only have to know a very small subset of Perl to be able to get useful results. In fact, once you can master

    print "Hello, world\n";
you can start writing Perl scripts. In fact, you will probably never have to (or be able to) know everything about Perl. As you feel the need or desire to use more sophisticated features (such as C structures or networking), you can learn these as you go. The learning curve for Perl is not a steep one, especially if you have the headstart of having a background in UNIX. Rather, its learning curve is gentle and gradual, but it is admittedly rather long.

The third reason is that you can get immediate results from your scripts. Unlike a normal compiled language (like C or Pascal, for example), you don't have to continually recompile your program every time you change one little thing. Perl allows you to experiment and test/debug quickly and easily. This ease of experimentation flattens the learning curve even more.

If you don't know C or UNIX at all, it'll be a steeper learning curve, but what you then learn from Perl will carry over into other areas, like using the C library, UNIX system calls, regular expressions, and associative arrays, just to name a few. To know Perl is to know UNIX, and vice versa.

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